Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Schlocky days make the world turn green again

"Schlock" is the sound your boot makes when it gets stuck in the mud and you pull it out. Hopefully, it's the sound you hear on schlocky days, because otherwise, you just pulled your foot out of your boot, and your boot is stuck in the mud!

Schlocky days happen after the winter snow melt, and after the sudden outburst of spring rain (that we seem to get all at once, and not gently over the course of a month)

Things around here get muddy, FAST. But at the same time, the warmer weather, bright sunshine and water also make the world burst with GREEN - my favorite color. Here are some of the outcomes of spring schlocky days.

The good news is that the pasture turns green FAST. It's nice to come home from work and find the sheep out in the field where they belong, instead of huddled around a bale of hay. The ladies were getting tired of dry, bland food, and are much quieter now that they have fresh grass!

This is Curly Sue, our first light brown lamb. She's getting mighty big, and has a big thick coat like her mom (whose butt is in the photo) Her mom recently got sheared, and looks a mess now, but about half as wide, and probably 10 pounds lighter!

The dogs are enjoying doing their job, too. And get to keep watch over their flock in the field. Atlas is completely in his element here, hanging out with his sheep.

Here's just a big happy group of sheepies, all enjoying their salad! Hoorah!

The rains of spring, and the warm weather have finally brought me my TULIPS! I planted them a year and a half ago, and was disappointed when they didn't bloom last spring. But here they are now!

Tulips are my favorite flower, and I had hundreds of them planted in my little garden at my first house. That house was back east - where water was plentiful, and the topsoil was black. So it's taken a little getting used to, being out here where it is dry, akaline clay. eek!

We have high expectations for our orchard this year. I believe this is an Apricot bursting with blooms. The first year, we expected transplant shock. Last year, we had a late frost that killed many of the blooms and left the trees barren for another year, but this year, things are looking up! We could finally be hitting our stride on the orchard. And that being said, I planted another plum this year, some hazelnuts, currants, and soon to plant some honeyberries and kiwis. It'll be 3-5 years before those start to bear, but I have the patience! They will be worth the wait!

The fruits of our planting labor are finally starting to show. These are some freckled Romaine lettuces I planted, they already look tasty.

A happy little Broccoli. YUM!!

And we believe a pepper plant. A chicken got in the green house and knocked over all my label sticks on our soil blocks, but this sprouted, is NOT a weed, we planted it. It's happy, and we'll find out what it is when it starts producing!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Baby Chicks!

It's that time of year when we are surrounded by baby chicks. The days are getting longer, and warmer. There is still a lot of rushing around, but with more daylight, we also get a minute or two to look around, and just be pleased. This was a moment the other night, as I was collecting eggs from the chicken house. I looked back at the house, the barn, the orchard, the greenhouse and just had one of those "AH" moments. One of those moments where the puzzle pieces seem to all be fitting together.

Those little black fuzz balls from the last post? Our little Barred Rock chicks? They are all feathered out. Larry is in the process of building them a house so they can go out on the pasture. Boy, are they going to love it! They are starting to want to perch on things and fly about. They'll love heading outside. Since they still need special baby chick food, we can't mix them with the adult layers, so they will get their own little square in the field. You can see a few stripey faces in here... chickens that look like they are wearing Cleopatra eyeliner - those are the Aracaunas, the ones who lay greenish-blueish eggs. We're excited to have more of them, too!

And just as a matter of kismet or something - we had 105 Cornish Rock crosses show up over the weekend. I went to pick them up from the post office right around the time when my 3 little eggs in the incubator started to jiggle and shake. We got our 105 all settled in the barn, and the next morning, we brought them 3 more little friends from the incubator.

Now, Cornish Rock crosses are the cutest little chicks - little yellow fuzz balls. Just the cutest things. I randomly selected 3 eggs from my hens, about 3 weeks ago to put into my incubator. It's really a toss up if they hatch or not. We have hundreds of hens, and a few roos. This was really a random selection - I have no idea what they could be. And I never know if they are even going to hatch at all! But this time, I had 3 successful hatches! All three turned out to be yellow. Which is interesting, since they were brown eggs - so their moms were either reds or lakenvelders. As they dried out and fluffed up, each of them has one black spot somewhere - which is how I can tell them apart from the Cornish Rocks. In a week, they will stand out like sore thumbs, because they'll be half the size of those meat birds! But for now, they fit right in, and are snuggling up with all their little friends in the brooder.

In this picture, we have the first chick that hatched. She had been working on it the entire day before. Somewhere in the middle of the night, I heard a loud crash downstairs. My radar went off - the one that said "this is NOT a broom falling over, or a picture falling off the wall, this needs your attention now!" She had hatched, and was peeping, and one of our cats went to investigate. He knocked the incubator off the shelf, and it was upside down on the floor! The other two eggs had not hatched, but were now quite cracked. I put everything back up on the shelf, made sure this little one was OK, and then I watched to see if the other eggs were still bouncing. I could see a beak peaking out of one, and the other was moving. So those chicks were still OK. Turns out a bump onto the floor didn't hurt any of them. In this picture, you can see the first hatch looking right at us, the second is in front of her, still wet and a little shivery, and trying to sleep. The third one is still in her egg.